The Washington Post

Bachmann-Jewish story: ‘I haven’t heard that at all’

The New York Post this week pulled off a coup. In its Tuesday editions, it reported that potential Jewish donors for Mitt Romney were breaking for Michele Bachmann because they thought she was Jewish. That same day, as fate would have it, Bachmann was in New York speaking to a group of orthodox Jewish leaders.

The next day — Wednesday — the New York Post published a story on Bachmann’s visit. It read, in part:

The same day The Post reported that some Jewish donors are holding back their contributions to GOP front-runner Mitt Romney under the mistaken impression that Bachmann is one of their own, the Minnesota congresswoman was addressing a Jewish group here.

A photo of Bachmann after the meeting carried this memorable caption:

SHALOM: Michele Bachmann leaves a meeting with Jewish leaders yesterday after The Post reported she’s been mistaken for being Jewish.

One of the Jewish notables in that session was David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel, a national Orthodox Jewish organization. The New York Post quotes Zwiebel as saying, “She introduced herself,” among other things.

And it’s fortunate that the New York Post didn’t quote Zwiebel on the integrity of its scoop on Bachmann being perceived as Jewish. Because that would have raised some troubling issues for the New York Post.

When the Erik Wemple Blog asked Zwiebel about all that, this is what he said:

In the most recent presidential elections, there was a much higher percentage of Orthodox Jews than reform or secular who voted Republican than the rest of the Jewish world, so I’d imagine that the Republican focus on Jewish votes would start from the base of people in the Orthodox Jewish community. Therefore, a lot of our constituents are people interested in the campaign and interested in seeing who the GOP nominee will be. I probably would have gotten an e-mail or a phone call about Michele Bachmann being a member of the tribe, and we haven’t gotten a single one, so I was surprised to see that report in the [New York] Post. . . . I haven’t heard that kind of talk at all. . . . So the story in the New York Post was somewhere between surprising and amusing.

Even so, the Bachmann-Jewish thing did furnish a good laugh line for the candidate’s visit with Jewish leaders. Zwiebel says that the person who introduced the Minnesota politician said: “There’s a report in today’s New York Post that our guest, Rep. Bachmann, is Jewish. If they’re saying that before this morning’s event, imagine what they’ll say after this morning’s event.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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